VCW is adding new resources and new information to this page constantly.
EVENT PROMOTES AWARENESS OF COVID-19 IMPACT ON WOMEN
VCW started the new legislative session with a public event examining how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts economic aspects of women’s lives, especially for women of color in our state. The virtual event took place Thursday evening, January 14th and featured a panel discussion with experts, an exploration of issues in small breakout room conversations, and a wrap up Q & A session. Our panelists were new VCW Commissioner Kiah Morris, Executive Director of Mercy Connections Lisa Falcone, and UVM Professor of Economics Stephanie Seguino.
Created as a resource to help employers, workers and all Vermonters address sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, new site offerings include:
- Need Help? Start Here.
- Reporting Harassment or Discrimination at Work
- Support for Victims & Survivors of Workplace Discrimination
- How Coworkers Can Help
- Employer Responsibilities
- How to Prevent Harassment: Best Practices
- How to Prevent Workplace Discrimination: Best Practices
- Education & Training
- Directory of Trainers
THE LISTENING PROJECT
What Vermonters are Saying, Listening Project one-page reports, by topic:
- Child Care and Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Economic Security: Income and Employment
- Affordability and Cost of Living: Housing, Food Insecurity and Transportation
- Health Care: Access and Affordability
- Cultural Challenges: Bias, Harassment and Discrimination
- Higher Education, Employment and Training Opportunities
- Work-Life Balance, Schedule Flexibility and Barriers to Accessing Programs and Services
NEW REPORT: WOMEN, WORK, AND WAGES
Change The Story, our partnership initiative with Vermont Women's Fund and Vermont Works for Women launched the new Status Report this month. Women, Work, and Wages is a deep dive into statistics on women's economic security in Vermont - with updates to previous data, and lots of new material. The full report can be read here. The four page executive summary can be read here.
VCW RELEASES UPDATED INFO SHEET ON THE TAXATION OF MENSTRUAL SUPPLIES
In Vermont, a bill in the 2019-2020 legislative session (H.29) would add tampons, sanitary napkins, and similar menstrual supplies to the list of items excluded from sales tax. In 2019, middle school students gathered more than 2300 signatures on a petition calling for the elimination of the sales tax on menstrual supplies. In November 2019, lawmakers wrote a letter to Vermont’s acting Tax Commissioner, asking whether menstrual supplies could fall under existing exemptions. The Tax Department responded, recommending legislative action as the easiest path to exempt these products from sales tax. Read VCW's info sheet for more information.
Provides an overview of Vermont’s current workplace sexual harassment laws and summarizes employers’ obligations under the law.
In late June Attorney General T.J. Donovan released a video aimed at assisting Vermont employers in understanding workplace sexual harassment laws. The video, entitled Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, provides businesses with an overview of Vermont’s current workplace sexual harassment laws and summarizes employers’ obligations under the law.
Produced with assistance from WCAX TV, the video contains a roundtable discussion moderated by Tabitha Pohl-Moore, President of the Rutland Area Branch of the NAACP, and features Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women, as well as Shirley Jefferson, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity at Vermont Law School. The video defines workplace sexual harassment, explains Vermont employers’ obligations to appropriately respond to claims of sexual harassment, and provides links to resources such as the Vermont Department of Labor’s model sexual harassment policy.
This was a joint project between the Attorney General’s Small Business Initiative and Civil Rights Unit. Comments or questions about Vermont’s sexual harassment laws should be directed to the Vermont Office of the Attorney General, Civil Rights Unit, email@example.com, (888) 745-9195 (toll free in Vermont), or (802) 828-3657. For additional resources for small businesses in Vermont, please contact the Vermont Office of the Attorney General Small Business Initiative at (800) 649-2424 or visit www.uvm.edu/consumer/businesses.
NEW CHAIR OF VCW: LISA SENECAL
Lisa Senecal of Stowe was elected unanimously to serve as Chair of Vermont Commission on Women in June.
Ms. Senecal is a founding partner in The Maren Group, a consultancy that works with businesses, investors, and campaigns to identify and remedy business and cultural practices that increase risk of sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination. An experienced entrepreneur with a background in media relations and marketing, her successful ventures include an award-winning children's entertainment company and a New Media consultancy. She has consulted and provided media relations and new media strategy for dozens of companies and organizations; gubernatorial and US Senatorial campaigns; and statewide policy initiatives.
She developed her voice as a women's advocate as a civilian student at Norwich University, from which she graduated cum laude. As one of a handful of women in each class, she developed perspectives invaluable both personally and professionally. Commissioner Senecal writes and speaks with an emphasis on issues of equity, equality, opportunity, and safety for women. Her perspectives and writing appear in a range of media, from NPR's Morning Edition and PBS News Hour, to The Daily Beast, the New York Daily News, and USA Today; she also writes a monthly column for her local newspaper, The Stowe Reporter. In addition to serving as Chair of VCW, she is on the Board of Trustees for the Stowe Education Fund and The Clarina Howard Nichols Center.
Commissioner Senecal is the ridiculously-proud mother of two teenaged sons who have grown into young men who speak up and speak out. In addition to serving on the VCW, she serves on the Board of Trustees for the Stowe Education Fund and The Clarina Howard Nichols Center.
A CALL FOR PUBLIC INPUT: STATE OF VERMONT SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION PREVENTION PROJECT
Are you a trainer or advisor on workplace equity and inclusivity issues in our state, or have you worked with one? What trainings would be most helpful in your workplace?
The Vermont Commission on Women is currently compiling online educational resources and a directory about work-related discrimination and sexual harassment prevention. The Commission is inviting interested members of the public - employers, workers, non-profit organizations, advocates, and businesses - to provide input and guidance, and to help “crowdsource” experts, resources and information.
Anyone interested in sharing educational resources, or being included in a directory of trainers, providers, experts and organizations about workplace equity and discrimination prevention should complete the Commission’s online Contact Form at www.surveymonkey.com/r/VTpreventiontrainers.
The Commission is also conducting a Workplace Training Survey for anyone who is a Vermont employee or an employer. This survey will help the Commission gauge what types of information and training Vermonters feel are most needed in their workplaces. The survey is accessible online at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/VTtrainingneeds
The information gathered will be used in a statewide public education and outreach campaign later this year, which includes a new workplace discrimination prevention website. The project is a result of the passage of recent legislation which allocated funds to the Vermont Commission on Women, in consultation with the Vermont Attorney General’s office and the Vermont Human Rights Commission, to inform and assist Vermont employees, employers, businesses, and members of the public about these issues. “We aim to make it easier for Vermonters to access the information, training, and education they need to create better workplaces for everyone in Vermont,” Commission Director Cary Brown said.
CHANGE THE STORY LEADERSHIP ON CHANNEL 17'S ON THE WATERFRONT SHOW
The leadership of our Change the Story VT initative interviewed in May 2019 by former Commissioner and change maker Melinda Moulton. Watch this episode of On The Waterfront from CCTV.
(UN)EQUAL PAY DAY 2019
Advocates gathered at the State House on Equal Pay Day, (Tuesday, April 2nd) to draw public attention to the gender wage gap in our state. Upon opening of the day’s legislative session in the House, a resolution designating it Equal Pay Day in Vermont was put forth by lead sponsor Brattleboro Representative Mollie Burke and other policymakers, observed by advocates dressed in red, symbolizing women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap. Read the House concurrent resolution here.
Later in the day, Governor Scott, at an Equal Pay Day legislative lunch event sponsored by the Commission's Education and Research Foundation, signed a proclamation recognizing April 2, 2019 as Equal Pay Day in Vermont, highlighting the gender pay gap between men and women’s earnings and the importance of promoting women’s equality in the workforce. “Closing the wage gap will undoubtedly have many positive outcomes for Vermont. It could reduce Vermont’s poverty rate, generate millions in our state’s economy and help attract more working families to Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “More importantly, it would help put us one step closer to providing equality for all because that’s the right thing to do.” View the proclamation here. Watch WPTZ News 5 coverage of the lunch here.
VCW's Cary Brown with our partner initiative Change The Story's Tiffany Bluemle wrote this post-Equal Pay Day VTDigger editorial. It takes a closer look at a Bloomberg News piece ranking VT best state for gender equality based on five categories, including pay ratio by gender, female labor force participation, college degree attainment, health care coverage and women in poverty.
LISTENING SESSION AT WOMEN'S CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
On February 25th members of VCW and the Legislative Women's Caucus will visit Chittenden County Correctional Facility for a listening session with incarcerated women. This is one of many such sessions VCW has participated in over the years. Along with a tour, these conversations helps us understand both conditions at the facility, and the frequently complex factors that lead to incarceration for inmates.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS EVENT
VCW Commissioner Lisa Senecal (pictured above) introduced Governor Scott at the Breakfast of Champions event hosted by Vermont Women’s Fund, our partner and the main funder of Change The Story VT, our shared initiative. This sell out-event drew 450 participants to learn from internationally recognized activist and educator Ted Bunch, of A CALL TO MEN on issues of manhood, male socialization and its intersection with violence, and preventing violence against all women and girls. Among the giveaways, a postcard with 7 Things You Can Do on one side (pictured above) and commitment statement on the other. The cards were mailed back to participants after the event to remind them of commitments and to request they make their statements public on social media. See a sample, to the right:
"VERMONT WOMEN: THE PAY GAP, REPRESENTATION, AND ADVANCEMENT" FEATURING VCW'S CARY BROWN
Vermont Department of Libraries sponsors this lunch hour speaker series, focused on events or trends in Vermont that affect state employees. Tuesday, February 19 from 12-1pm at the Pavilion Auditorium in Montpelier more here.
VCW SUBMITS COMMENTS ON TITLE IX PROPOSED RULE CHANGES
VCW submitted comments as part of the public comments process on recent proposed changes by the U.S. Department of Education concerning schools' responses to campus sexual harassment and assault. Those proposed rule changes amend regulations under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities receiving federal funding. Read our comments here.
LEGISLATION OF INTEREST TO WOMEN
One of our functions is to provide information about how proposed legislation may impact Vermont women and girls. In the 2019 session, we contributed to the discussions on:
Spousal Support and Maintenance, H.512
Spousal Support and Maintenance, testimony of VCW's Hannah Lane H.512
Increasing the Minimum Wage, (from April) S.23
Spousal Support and Maintenance Reform, public input submitted to Senate Judiciary committee, here
Right to Personal Reproductive Liberty, PR.5
Elections Corrections, S.107
Paid Family and Medical Leave, H.107
Equal Pay, S.82
Spousal Support and Maintenance Reform, S.99
Preserving the Right to Abortion, H.57
Increasing the Minimum Wage, (from January) S.23
Sexual Harassment, Act 183
REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT PUBLIC EDUCATION & OUTREACH PROGRAM ISSUED
In 2018, the Vermont General Assembly passed Act 183, directing the Vermont Commission on Women, in consultation with the Vermont Attorney General and the Vermont Human Rights Commission, to develop a public education and outreach program designed to make Vermont employees, employers, and members of the public aware of:
- Methods for reporting employment and work-related discrimination and sexual harassment;
Where to find information regarding:
- laws related to work-related discrimination and sexual harassment
- best practices for preventing employment and work-related discrimination and sexual harassment
- Methods for preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace
This work has been divided into two projects now open for proposals through the state government public bid process:
Sexual Harassment and Work-Related Discrimination Resource Collection and Development
- Sexual Harassment and Work-Related Discrimination Public Education and Outreach Campaign
Learn more about this project at https://women.vermont.gov/Sexual_Harassment.
VCW is part of the planning committee for the New England Women’s Policy Conference which took place Friday, November 16th 2018, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, on the UMass Boston campus. This energetic day-long regional conference, featuring keynote speaker Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoo movement, and including ample opportunity for cross-sector dialogue, learning, and collaboration attracts 450+ leaders of ALL ages – women and men – from diverse communities and organizations in the six New England states with the shared goal of creating sustainable economic and social change for women and their families. Workshop tracks included the following themes: Policy Solutions for Low-Wage Workers; Sexual Harassment in the Workplace; Achieving Equal Pay - State Legislative Lessons and Wins. VCW’s own Cary Brown and Lisa Senecal are featured workshop panelists, along with Vermonters Representative Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, Melissa Battah, and Kesha Ram. NEW this year: a special workshop track for politically ambitious young women leaders, facilitated by non-partisan IGNITE! High school and college age women in this track will receive both policy and political training, encouraging the next generation of women leaders. Tickets for this special track are $25- students registering will place VCW in sponsor information.
LISTENING PROJECT SURVEY + EVENTS
The Vermont Commission on Women would like to know about the most important issues facing women in Vermont. We are doing this survey to learn about what is working well, and what is not working well. Anything you share with us will help us understand how we can best help women in Vermont. Your answers to this survey are completely anonymous and confidential. Nobody will know what answers you gave, so you can feel free to tell us whatever you want. The survey closed on October 31, 2018.
LISTENING PROJECT VIDEO, FROM CHANGE THE STORY VT
LISTENING PROJECT EVENTS
St. Albans community members shared thoughts about what needs aren’t being met for Vermont women, what most affects their abilities to provide for themselves or their families, and what can be done to help at this Public Meeting to discuss Economic Challenges in Franklin County at City Hall in St. Albans on Thursday, September 27th. A panel of local experts kicked it off, featuring: Belinda Bessette of Northwestern Counseling & Support Services, Gretchen DeHart of Community College of Vermont, Natalie Glynn of Let’s Grow Kids, Ashley Moore of Main Street Alliance, Denise Smith of RiseVT. These experts briefly addressing conditions for women and girls in Franklin County, fleaving time for audience discussion. Results from our statewide Listening Project survey launched this spring indicate top areas of concern to Franklin County women and their families include: health care, child care, paid family and medical leave, education, and mental health. Learn more here. Thanks to event planners,VCW Commissioners Danielle Martel, Melinda Moulton, Gretchen Bailey and Charlotte Dennett. Stay tuned in early 2019 for survey report!
Brattleboro area residents shared their story at the Vermont Commission on Women’s Listening Project event hosted by area Commissioners Emilie Kornheiser, Kerry Secrest and Carol Buchdahl at Brooks Memorial Library on Wednesday, September 26th from 6:00 -7:30 pm. Hosted by local Vermont Commission on Women Commissioners, this public discussion centered Economic Challenges in Windham county. Participants shared thoughts about what needs aren’t being met for Vermont women, what most affects their abilities to provide for themselves or their families, and what can be done to help. Learn more here. Stay tuned in early 2019 for survey report!
Newport community residents gathered on Friday October 5th to participate in a factilitated discussion about what they see as top areas of concern for Newport/NEK area's women and girls. This guided conversation was facilitated by Commissioners Lisa Senecal, Marybeth Redmond, Mary Daley and Kellie Campbell, resulting in very engaged participation. Special thanks to former Commissioner Barbara Morrow for aiding this gathering. We'll be gathering up all survey input, including these event outcomes, our interviews, and our statewide survey results, and producing a report, slated for presentation at our legislative lunch in early January, 2019.
VIDEOS: PREGNANCY-RELATED WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATIONS
Learn more about workplace protections for Vermont’s pregnant workers. What are reasonable accommodations? What do you need to know as an employer or HR (human resources) manager to comply with Vermont law?
Learn more about working while you’re pregnant in Vermont. Here’s what you need to know about asking for what you need stay healthy on the job.
LEGISLATION OF INTEREST TO WOMEN
One of our functions is to provide information about how proposed legislation may impact Vermont women and girls. In the 2018 session, we contributed to the discussions on:
Equal Pay | Salary History, H.294 and S.275
Increasing the Minimum Wage, S.40
Paid Family Leave, H.196
Sexual Harassment, H.707
Systemic Racism Mitigation Oversight and Equity Review Board, S.281
Accommodations for Pregnant Employees, H.136
VCW IN THE NEWS
Read all about it: find our newsclips here.
SPRING SALARY NEGOTIATION WORKSHOPS IN RUTLAND, ST. JOHNSBURY & NEWPORT
Choosing not to negotiate is leaving some serious money on the table. Over 50% of women say they are apprehensive about negotiating and only 30% of women consistently negotiate salaries. For many of us, even the thought of negotiating makes us nervous. How much do I ask for? When is the best time to do it? What if I don't feel like I deserve more? This workshop teaches women how to negotiate with confidence. Vermont Commission on Women's Rutland and St. Johnsbury workshops were sponsored by the New England Women’s Policy Initiative, and all were facilitated by the fabulous Lindsey Lathrop, Career Coach at FromWithin Coaching.
Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines STUDENT WEBSITE WINS DEBORAH PICKMAN CLIFFORD AWARD AT VT HISTORY DAY, 2018
Applause and cheers to CVU high school student Kali Adams. Her website, “Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines” won the Deborah Pickman Clifford prize at the Vermont Historical Society’s Vermont History Day. The site explores Vermont’s 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, her early years, how she developed as an activist, and her legacy, particularly inspirational for young women! Ms. Adams, a two-time winner of this prize, placed second in her contest category and qualified for National History Day in June. For many years, VCW Commissioner Ruth Finn has judged this day-long contest, and has awarded the Deborah Pickman Clifford prize to the most outstanding entry related to Vermont women who have contributed to our state, or to the role that women have played in Vermont’s history. Deborah Pickman Clifford was a historian and author specializing in women’s history, who left our citizens an important legacy, including a collection of biographies, "More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Vermont Women," published in 2009. VCW’s Education and Research Foundation funds this cash prize.
EQUAL PAY DAY 2018: TUESDAY, APRIL 10 | VERMONT STATE HOUSE
Equal Pay Day’s date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year due to the gender wage gap.
The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), the League of Women Voters of Vermont, and Business and Professional Women (BPW) VT coordinate this annual gathering of advocates at the State House on Equal Pay Day, (this year Tuesday, April 10th) to draw public attention to the gender wage gap in our state. Upon opening of the day’s legislative session, a resolution designating it Equal Pay Day in Vermont was put forth by lead sponsor Representative Mollie Burke and other policymakers, and observed by advocates dressed in red, symbolizing women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap. Link to this Equal Pay Day resolution, HCR 323, here. HUGE thanks to all who stood with us: AAUW of Vermont; LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont; our representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Peter Welch; VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Women Business Owners Network: Voices for Vermont's Children; Rights and Democracy; Change The Story VT; Vermont Works for Women; and The Vermont Women's Fund.
Governor Scott signed an Equal Pay Day proclamation in his ceremonial office with speakers addressing various aspects of the wage gap in Vermont. Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, UVM's Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs gave an address weaving the personal, the political, and the facts about the wage gap and women of color. Alice Kitchel spoke about the work of her organization, Business and Professional Women (BPW) VT, to engage, mentor and teach women to lead in both business and in thier personal lives. Cary Brown, VCW's Executive Director spoke about what the wage gap is and what it looks like in Vermont.
Change The Story VT (CTS) along with Vermont Business and Professional Women invite policy makers and guests to enjoy coffee in the cafeteria after lunch, to mark Equal Pay Day and share information about how the gender wage gap impacts Vermonters. CTS partner Vermont Works for Women will provide their delicious Peanut Butter Bars by suggested wage gap-related donation.
We’re excited to be joined in the State House by advocates participating in the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence’s annual Legislative Day!
MAY DAY! MAY DAY! Screwnomics Book Launch
7:00 PM, Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Bear Pond Books, 77 Main Street, Montpelier VT
This FREE book launch celebration and discussion on the state of women's economics features Screwnomics author Rickey Gard Diamond and VCW's Executive Director Cary Brown. Screwnomics issues a wake-up call for today's women to join what has been a nearly exclusively male conversation for the past 2,500 years. It explains the sexual history of economics, and the unspoken but widely applied economic theory that females, including our mother earth, should always work for less, or better, for free. Illustrated by Peaco Todd, Kirkus Reviews says about Screwnomics, "A smart, comprehensive economics guide with a feminist twist...her experience as a novelist, journalist, and professor are all brought to bear to demystify difficult concepts...informative and fun." All welcome! More info here.
Friday, March 23 | 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The River Garden, 157 Main Street | Brattleboro
Vermont Commission on Women's Emilie Kornheiser leads this Brattleboro area discussion on opportunities for our community, economy, and families as we move towards equal rights for all. All community members are invited to share their perspective on the place, needs, and strengths of women. Bring your own brown bag lunch. Part of the fabulous Strolling of the Heifers noontime Brown Bag Lunch series.
Sexual harassment and abuse charges against powerful personalities has created a kind of public reckoning. Our shared voices in the media and the #MeToo movement are driving change, yet pushing back against the behavior patterns of sexual harassment, so common in workplaces across the country, is not easy. Social mores and norms are deeply embedded in all of us. When is it safe to speak up? What happens if we do say something? Who do we turn to if we decide to speak up? How might the passage of new laws in Vermont change the climate? Join GBWF for a panel discussion, featuring VCW's Lisa Senecal, looking at sexual harassment in the workplace. Learn about workplace options: human resources, employee assistance programs—how these parts of our workplace can help and what the limitations might be. We’ll have an overview of the current bill in the Vermont legislature, what it is trying to do and what it might mean. We’ll talk about strategies to take care of yourself when you experience harassment at work, how we can start to be more proactive and how we might respond if we are harassed. Come and listen to the experiences of others; there will be time after the panel for discussion.
Vermont Commission on Women and Let’s Grow Kids released this co-authored white paper on International Women's Day, 3/18/18. The paper examines the intersection of child care, our economy, and gender equity.
People struggle to determine what the best or most helpful course of action would be if they witness sexual harassment in the workplace. If you find yourself in a bystander situation, here are some ways you can help.
In January 2017, a bill (H. 136) was introduced in the Vermont Legislature that would ensure healthy pregnant workers in Vermont receive reasonable workplace accommodations such as having access to water, access to a stool or a chair, longer or more frequent restroom breaks, or avoiding heavy lifting. The bill was signed into law May 4th!
Read the new law here.
Read VCW's testimony on H.136 here.
Read VCW’s press release, New Protections for Pregnant Workers here.
Read VCW's policy brief for more information about these protections.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE TASKFORCE
At the end of the 2017 legislative session, VCW was placed on an 8-member Spousal Support and Maintenance Task Force created for the purpose of reviewing and making legislative recommendations to Vermont’s alimony laws. As well as research and information, VCW collected and presented the stories of Vermont women on this issue at a taskforce public hearing in November.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ASSAULT IN THE WORKPLACE
VCW Commissioner Lisa Senecal joined Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour along with Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women's Law Center, Melissa Silverstein of Women & Hollywood, and Leigh Gilmore of Wellesley College to discuss sexual harassment, assault, and the #MeToo campaign. Commissioner Senecal continues to write and speak out as a national thought leader on this issue in USA Today, National Public Radio, the Daily Beast and other media outlets. She collaborated with Rep. Copeland-Hanzas on VPR's Vermont Edition show on February 15th, link: VPR Vt Edition: Sexual Harassment Bill Aims To Protect Victims' Rights.
SEN. LEAHY’S WEOC 2017: WOMEN’S ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY CONFERENCE
VCW serves on the planning committee of Senator Leahy’s free and fabulous conference every year. 500 registered for the September 2017 event and our initiative, Change The Story served as the theme and focus of lively workshops and discussions on how to improve women’s economic status. VCW’s Cary Brown lead the afternoon session with data and information from Change The Story, VCW Commissioner Colin Ryan shared his dual powers of storytelling and galvanizing action in that same PM session. Pictured (L to R) Change The Story's Jessica Nordhaus, Marcelle Leahy, Sen. Leahy, Vermont Women's Fund Director Meg Smith, Change The Story's Tiffany Blumele, VCW Director Cary Brown.
Child marriage occurs when one or both parties are under 18 years old at the time of the marriage, and it happens in the U.S., and it's legal in every state, including Vermont. 57,800 minors aged 15 to 17 were married in the U.S. in 2014. Approximately 90% of the children married in recent years were girls. Read VCW's new policy brief here.
The wage gap tends to grow during the course of a career. Raises, bonuses, and even salaries at new jobs are frequently based on current earnings and salary history; for women and minorities already being paid less, this perpetuates the wage gap. In Vermont, a bill (H.294) was introduced that would prohibit employers from requesting or requiring an applicant’s salary history until after they’ve made an offer for employment, including an initial salary offer. Read VCW's info sheet for more information.
EQUAL PAY DAY 2017
Tuesday, April 4th was Equal Pay Day. Throughout the nation, women’s organizations observe Equal Pay Day each April, symbolizing how far into the new year the average American woman would have to work to earn what the average American man did in the previous year due to the gender wage gap. Events at the State House included an Equal Pay Day “Women and Leadership” Press Conference at 12:00 in the Cedar Creek Room. Advocates for equal pay at this press conference addressed the gender wage gap and unveiled Change The Story's new “Vermont Women and Leadership” report. Change The Story is an initiative of the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), the Vermont Women’s Fund, and Vermont Works for Women designed to fast-track women’s economic status in our state. The report reveals new data about participation of women in various leadership roles in Vermont, including federal, state and municipal government, Abenaki Nations, academia, law enforcement, and the corporate and non-profit sectors. By some measures, Vermont is a national pacesetter in its share of women in key leadership positions. By others, women’s leadership status lags behind other states. Overall, Vermont women have yet to achieve equal representation as leaders in any but a few political, civic or professional realms.
The press conference featured: Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson, State Treasurer Beth Pearce, Vermont Tech President Pat Moulton, Melody Brook of the Abenaki Women's Council and VT Commission on Native American Affairs, Joe Fusco of UVM's Grossman School of Business and VP at Casella Waste Systems, Jen Kimmich Co-founder/Owner of The Alchemist, and VCW Executive Director, Cary Brown. Members of Women’s Caucus of the Legislature, the League of Women Voters of VT, VT Federation of Business and Professional Women joined the group of approximately 100 present. Advocates wore the traditional red to symbolize women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap on this day. Read the report here. Read more about this event in the press release here. Watch a video of the Equal Pay Day Press Conference here. Additional Equal Pay Day events included:
Equal Pay Day Resolution. Link to: House Concurrent Resolution 97, a resolution recognizing Equal Pay Day
Equal Pay Day Proclamation Signing | 11:30 AM | Governor’s ceremonial office. Read the proclamation here.
Equal Pay Day Facebook Event Page link here.
Sen. Sanders' Equal Pay Day statement, here.
Watch our Facebook stream video from this event below:
WOMEN AND 1970'S COUNTERCULTURE, 2017 Women's History Month Event
The 1970s saw incredible advancements in public engagement with, and recognition of, women’s rights. This flowering of second-wave feminism had a far-reaching impact on American society. What was it like for women who participated in the counterculture during that time? What challenges did they face, and what opportunities did they find? How was women’s experience in Vermont unique, and what did it share with the rest of the country? How does it relate to the current generation of young women? In our annual partnership with the Vermont Historical Society (VHS) to honor Women's History Month (March), we presented this free evening roundtable discussion, "Women of the Counterculture Movement in 1970s Vermont" at the Vermont History Center in Barre. Rescheduled (due to winter storm) to Wednesday, March 22nd at 6:00. This event was moderated by Amanda Gustin, Vermont Historical Society's Public Program Coordinator, and featured Euan Bear, Bridget Downey-Meyer, Louise Andrews, Melinda Moulton and Verandah Porche, reflecting on what brought them into this movement, what their experience was like, and what lasting impact it’s had on their own lives and on Vermont society. A truly engaging and provocative discussion!
Read historian Cyndy Bittinger's Women of the Counterculture in 1970s Vermont piece from Vermont Woman's April/May 2017 Issue.
VPR's Women's History Month 2017 Commentary Series
Along with the Vermont Historical Society, we're also honored to work with Vermont Public Radio offering this annual corresponding-themed commentary series:
*panelists at our event. Special note: Melinda serves as a VCW Commissioner. Read more about past women's history month celebrations and themes here. More 2017 Counterculture event details on our Facebook event page here.
CONFISCATION OF DANGEROUS OR DEADLY WEAPONS BILL
VCW testified on House bill H. 422, a bill proposing to provide removal of deadly weapons from the scene of an incident of domestic violence. Read our testimony here.
PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE INSURANCE BILL
VCW's Cary Brown spoke at the introduction of H.196, bill proposing to create a Family Leave Insurance Program within the Department of Labor that will provide employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave and that will be funded by contributions from employers and employees. Cary's comments included findings from VCW's feasibility study: “Women in Vermont are already lagging behind men in their earnings, part of the reason why this is true is because there’s a disproportionate expectation that women will be the ones who’ll take time off from work, take time out of the workforce in order to care for babies, children, aging parents, other family members. Just in general, women are taking on more of those responsibilities. Paid family and medical leave insurance is one way to help offset that disproportionality. This was why VCW sought and received a grant from US DOL to conduct a feasibility study. We came up with some interesting findings: new moms with access to paid family leave work more hours, and return to work…They are 39 % less likely to rely on public assistance. That would translate to up to $271,000 savings to Vermonters. Additionally, in Vermont we’d see a $277,000 savings in costs due to infants being born healthy…and if we had a program, between 2 and 3.4 million dollars Vermont families would save, due to reduced child care costs. We could see an estimated 1800 Vermonters elevated above the poverty threshold, who would otherwise be below.”
Watch an Orca Media video of the press conference here.
View VCW's feasibility study presentation, submitted to committee considering H.196, the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, here.
Read the full study report, also submitted the Committee, here.
In the U.S., 47 states have a sales tax, and most of those apply the tax to the sale of feminine hygiene products. Some states apply a luxury tax to these products. Taxation of feminine hygiene products has garnered international attention in recent years, and Connecticut, New York, Illinois, and Canada passed legislation to exclude feminine hygiene products from tax in 2016. In 2017, a number of states are considering bills that would do the same. In Vermont, a bill (H.43) has been introduced that would add feminine hygiene products to the list of items excluded from sales tax. Read VCW's fact sheet for more information.
VCW was asked to testify on H.63 and H.93, bills address raising the minimum wage. VCW's Executive Director Cary Brown provided information about how this legislation might impact women. Read her testimony here. A few data highlights from the testimony:
• In Vermont, women working full-time are 1.3 times as likely as men to earn less than $10.10 an hour
• Women in Vermont are over twice as likely as men to work in part-time jobs which are more likely to pay minimum wage.
• A higher minimum wage is linked to smaller pay gaps between men and women.
In our February 8th meeting, VCW voted to become a member of the Vermont Raise the Wage Coalition.
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VCW'S CARY BROWN ON COMCAST NEWSMAKERS SHOW
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